Compiled for the LCLD Board of Directors every Wednesday, this digest is designed to brief you on the latest headlines about LCLD Members and organizations, as well as thought-provoking articles on diversity in the legal profession, talent development, mentoring, and leadership. Past issues of the Digest are also archived on the LCLD web site.

If you have questions about the Digest, or articles you'd like to share, please email Caitlin Puffenberger at

This week, in news related to diversity and inclusion...

1. Many Black Lawyers Navigate a Rocky, Lonely Road to Partner

The New York Times, 8/17/15

The experiences of 2011 Fellow Jimmie McMillian shed light on the challenges faced by many black lawyers. While Jimmie notes that Barnes & Thornburg provided him with mentoring, experience, and relationships that supported him on his journey to partner, many firms fail to meet the needs of their minority attorneys. LCLD is mentioned as one of a handful of organizations working to provide minority lawyers with the skills and support network they need to succeed in their field. Also recognized for exemplary efforts are Sally Olson, LCLD's diversity contact at Sidley Austin, and several other LCLD Member organizations.  

2. Fannie Mae GC on Diversity

Bloomberg BNA, 8/11/15

In discussing diversity both in-house and at firms, LCLD Member and General Counsel of Fannie Mae Brian Brooks details what he calls the “‘usual suspects’ phenomenon.” He says this occurs when leaders continue to draw from the same small pool of lawyers for exciting projects, or when those putting together teams just tap the people with whom they are most familiar. Fannie Mae’s GC Fellows Program aims to combat this problem by consciously looking for and training “the diamonds in the rough, the unsung heroes from around the department who should be getting more exposure than they do every day.” 

3. Exclusion of Blacks from Juries Raises Renewed Scrutiny

The New York Times, 8/16/15

Research has found that African Americans are being excluded from juries at much higher rates than other races. In Alabama, Louisiana, and North Carolina, prosecutors struck black jurors at double or triple the rate of others; in Georgia, prosecutors excluded every black prospective juror in a death penalty case against a black defendant. While prosecutors claim it’s within their rights to strike those who might be biased against police officers or the government, others say that excluding black jurors is taking away a key civil right. 

4. Work Policies May Be Kinder, but Brutal Competition Isn’t

The New York Times, 8/17/15

Recent trends in workplace policies suggest a more humane environment for employees in even the most competitive industries, including the legal profession. “But a closer look at the forces that drive the relentless pace at elite companies suggests that – however much the most sought-after employers in the country may be changing their official policies – brutal competition remains an inescapable component of workers’ daily lives.” The article notes that in the legal profession, shifts toward alternative work arrangements and smaller, less profitable firms may predict where other industries move in the future.

5. Employees Can’t be Summed Up By a Personality Test

Harvard Business Review, 8/19/15 

Personality tests and other methods of categorizing employees will not help build the strongest teams, work environments, or organizations, according to this leadership coach. Leaders should instead focus on getting teams to think about the general character traits that will help them achieve their objectives. “To do this, they would have to learn how to talk about sensitive issues, how to listen without getting defensive, and how to share, courageously, what they perceive in each other… It’s those conversations, not the assessments, that will improve relationships and results in an organization.”